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Esteemed Panelists Advocate for Music Education in Los Angeles Schools

LOS ANGELES, CA – On March 6-7, 2024, as part of the 14th Annual Music Unites the World Festival during Music In Our Schools Month®, ETM-LA hosted panel discussions for parents and community members on Music, Mind, & Child Development. Panelists and presenters on hand included Music Therapist & ETM-LA Teacher Alum Ricardo Hurtado (LA Musica Therapy), Baraka May (Vocal Soloist; Billie Eilish, Encanto), LA County Department of Arts and Culture’s Meia Johnson and Gillian McCarthy, 2024 Academy Award-Winning Composer Kris Bowers and Katya Richardson (The Last Repair Shop), and 2023 Shining Star Corporate Honoree SEL4CA.

Topics ranged from personal impact stories with music and the arts, the need for equity and access to careers in the creative economy, mindfulness and social emotional learning, how to nurture children’s creativity and exploration of music, and more. May explained music’s unique ability to engage the mind: “Music is one of the activities that most integrates both hemispheres of the brain. If you’re talking about… a well-balanced child in the world, music is one of the best activities for their brain to bounce back and forth between planning and improvising.” Hurtado commented, “Self-identity can be found… music is innate in all human beings.”

Panelists also discussed the wide-ranging benefits of music education when embedded in school – academically, socially, and emotionally. McCarthy stated, “[The arts] gave me a place where I had a social group that was involved in a shared goal.” Bowers shared, “Music is a vehicle for me to express myself and [was] a way for me to connect with other students.”  May added, “I find that [music education] creates this openness and inquisitive curiosity that goes into [a child’s] math, science, and people skills.” 

On the topic of reducing barriers that students from under-resourced communities face when pursuing the arts, Johnson recommends that parents “encourage other parents to accept and encourage kids’ creativity and passion… those are transferable skills in every sector.”

A Q&A session was held at the end of each panel discussion, which prompted questions on how best to support students who are learning music. Bowers reflected, “Engaging with young people from the perspective of curiosity and the why behind whatever is happening can be helpful in motivating them.” McCarthy added to the practical advice offered for parents: “It is a journey of discovery that you are accompanying them on. Hold space for your child and allow them to explore.”


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Education Through Music-Los Angeles is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide and promote music in under-resourced schools as part of the core curriculum for every child in order to enhance students’ academic achievement, creativity, and overall development.

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